Most of the time, when you reach the edges of countries, it’s hard to identify the furthest point of land but Denmark ends, on it’s Northern shore, in a sharp little point.
It’s a point where two seas of different densities meet and refuse to mix but perhaps the most important thing about these seas are their names. When you stand on the point you have the Kattegat to your right and the Skagerrak to your left.
The Kattegat washes down between Denmark and Sweden whilst the Skagerrak flows agains the shores of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Kattegat and Skagerrak. You find yourself looking for things to say about them just to feel the taste of the words in your mouth. We sailed from Denmark to Norway across Skagerrak and returned from Sweden to Denmark across Kattegat.
We added to our collection of words and water as we went North.
Just outside Bodo is Saltstaumen, the maelstrom. A force of fierce nature created when the waters of Saltforden and Skjerstad Fjord push through the narrow opening between the islands of Straumoya and Knaplundsoya.
Edgar Allan Poe describes the experience of his hero in ‘Descent into the Maelstrom’ just offshore from where we stood ….
“Never shall I forget the sensations of awe, horror, and admiration with which I gazed about me. The boat appeared to be hanging, as if by magic, midway down, upon the interior surface of a funnel vast in circumference, prodigious in depth, and whose perfectly smooth sides might have been mistaken for ebony, but for the bewildering rapidity with which they spun around, and for the gleaming and ghastly radiance they shot forth, as the rays of the full moon, from that circular rift amid the clouds which I have already described, streamed in a flood of golden glory along the black walls, and far away down into the inmost recesses of the abyss.”
And Herman Melville throws Saltsraumen into the mix of the world’s difficulties and perils which he would overcome in pursuit of his whale.
“Aye, aye! And I’ll chase him round Good Hope and round the Horne, and round the Norwegian Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before I give him up.”
And what did we find?
Kattegat and Skagerrak, seas with different densities meet with an even greater density of human tourists who take turns to stand on the sand of the sharp Grenan point to photograph themselves in front of a slight disturbance in the water behind them.
There is a discernible straight line between the seas and on a good day I reckon it would be spectacular. On the day we visited I looked around for whatever straight lines I could find.
At the maelstrom, no whales, no imperilled sailors but a few fishermen with rods and lines and a few hopeful tourists like us clinging to the tourist information tide tables in case they flew into the biting wind into the freezing air under the bridge and into the current sketched on the surface of the water by small waves.
But what a fantastic experience, to be able to feel those words in your mouth and imagine.
Kattegat, Skagerrak, Saltstraumen, Maelstrom, Saltforden, Skjerstad, Straumoya, Knaplundsoya.